POLIS 2120 - Conflict and Crisis in the Middle East

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2023

Since the creation of the modern Middle East in the early 20th Century the region has been consumed with both conflict and crisis. Many of these problems stem from the legacies of Ottoman and European colonialism. This course will examine the impact of colonialism, the creation of new nation-states, the division of ethnic and tribal groups, and the experimentation with new and foreign political ideologies. The search for national political identity in a post-colonial world has been influenced and shaped by key regional developments such as the establishment of Israel, the Palestinian refugees, intra-country conflict, the Cold War, and the influence (and at times occupation by) regional and Western powers. In the post-Cold War period a political vacuum emerged which was quickly filled by political Islamists and led to the era known as the 'war on terror'; resulting in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently the region remains an area of stark contrasts of under-development and modernity, poverty and wealth, and a mixture of autocratic, theocratic and democratic systems of governance. The majority of the region's population is under 25 years of age and the political, social and economic implications this is going to have on the region and internationally in the next couple of decades is critical. The changing narratives and discourse emerging from years of foreign intervention, corruption and social change offset through globalisation will be the focus of this short course. This course will examine past conflicts and crises in the Middle East ranging from the creation of its modern borders, the Arab-Israeli wars, the 1956 Suez crisis, the Iranian revolution, the rise of political Islam, to the changing real politik in the post-September 11 environment and beyond.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code POLIS 2120
    Course Conflict and Crisis in the Middle East
    Coordinating Unit Politics and International Relations
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study
    Incompatible POLI 2120
    Assessment 1800-2400 word research project (40%), 900-1200 word minor essay (20%), group exercise (20%), class test (10%), tutorial participation (10%)
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Minerva NasserEddine

    Course Coordinator: Dr Minerva Nasser-Eddine

    Email: minerva.nassereddine@adelaide.edu.au
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Provide students with knowledge of historical and current debates in Middle Eastern politics.

    2. Provide students with a good understanding of the background of issues and events that have shaped Middle Eastern politics.

    3. Identify and discuss the challenges faced by the Middle East

    4. Build students capacity to undertake independent research based on a range of sources relating to Middle Eastern politics.

    5. Build students conceptual, analytic and critical skills based on contemporary developments in the Middle East.

    6. Encourage the development of advanced skills in critical analysis and reflection upon contemporary Middle Eastern issues.

    7. Produce coherent and well substantiated arguments.

    8. Express ideas confidently, thoughtfully and respectfully.

    9. Work with others in the exploration of relevant content.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    2, 3, 4, 5, 9

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    2, 3, 6, 7, 8

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    3, 5, 6, 8, 9
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Course Readings made available through MyUni
    Recommended Resources
    Recommended resources such as additional readings, essay writing guides and referencing guidelines will be available via MyUni.
    Online Learning
    MyUni will be utilised to upload additional resources, including scholarly articles, news items and video clips.

    Important Note: The Seminar sessions will NOT be recorded. This is the interactive, face-to-face, component of the course that requires full attendance and participation.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is comprised primarily of lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce the key concepts, theories and themes, using a combination of multi-media sources (e.g. slides, videos, web-links, etc.). The seminars will consist of small-group activities (including student presentations) and semi-structured debates on the weekly topics.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.


    1 x 1-hour lectures (or equivalent) per week 12 hours per semester
    1 x 2-hour seminars (or equivalent) per week 24 hours per semester
    3 hours seminar preparation per week 36 hours per semester
    3 hours reading per week 36 hours per semester
    2 hours research per week 24 hours per semester
    2 hours assessment preparation per week 24 hours per semester
    Total Hours 156 hours per semester

    Learning Activities Summary


    Week 1            Introduction - Pre and Post Creation of the Modern Middle East
    Week 2 Palestine-Israel Conflict
    Week 3 Arab-Israel Conflict
    Week 4 Post-Independence Political Structures
    Week 5 Politics, Religion and Society
    Week 6 Sectarianism
    Week 7 9/11 and its Fall Out
    Week 8 Arab Spring 1
    Week 9 Arab Spring 2
    Week 10 Daesh, Jihadism and Violent Extremism
    Week 11 Back to the Future? The Re-emergence of Authoritarianism, Autocracy and Theocracy 
    Week 12 Shifting Geo-political sands
    Specific Course Requirements
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task            Task Type            Weighting            Learning Outcomes
    Seminar work Formative and Summative 25% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    Test (Part 1) Summative 10% 1, 2, 3
    Test (Part 2) Summative 15% 1, 2, 3
    Research paper Formative and Summative 50% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Seminar attendance is compulsory. Failure to attend two or more seminars without permission from the course coordinator can result in the student being precluded from passing the course.

    Essays must be submitted electronically, through Turnitin. The relevant link will be available on MyUni.
    Assessment Detail
    Seminar Work: Seminars are forums for free exchange and discussion of informed opinions, that is, ideas and thoughts based on reading and reflection, as well as places for raising questions and for the exchange of relevant information. All students are expected to have read the required readings in preparation for the seminars. Seminars will be assessed on the basis of the depth of knowledge on the weekly topic, the quality of engagement with the weekly readings and other materials, and the attitude displayed towards the arguments and contributions of others. Seminar work will include small-group activities, including student presentations. Additional guidelines will be provided during the first seminar, in Week 1.

    Research Essay: The research essay is designed to assess the student’s ability to conduct independent research, evaluate relevant materials, and formulate a coherent, sophisticated and well-substantiated argument on one of the topics covered in the course. Students will be able to select an essay question from a list that will be posted on MyUni, or come up with their own question. Those who choose to write their own question must get approval from the Course Coordinator no less than two weeks prior to the due date. The research essay will be 1800-2000 words.

    Class Tests: The tests will be held in two parts, the first in Week 5 and the second in Week 12. The two-part test will assess the student's knowledge of the key concepts, theories and themes explored throughout the course. The questions will be based on the material covered during the lectures and seminars, and contained in the required readings.

    Important Note: Essential information to complete these assignments successfully will be provided in due course in tutorials and on MyUni in the form of responses to frequently asked questions [FAQs].
    • Essays must be submitted electronically, through Turnitin. The relevant link will be available on MyUni.

    • Late essays without an approved extension will be penalised at the rate of 2% (2 marks) per day.

    • There is a cut-off period of 7 days (including weekends and public holidays), after which late submissions without a formal extension will not be accepted/marked. In the case of late submissions with a formal extension approved, the cut-off date is 7 days (including weekends and public holidays) from the revised due date, at 11:59pm.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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